The first ever soccer fiesta was on the New Year menu of the riverine Apoi communities of Southern Ijaw local government of Bayelsa State, thanks to a son of the soil, Ebi Egbe, who bankrolled a grassroots football tournament that ended on January 2.
Egbe, the CEO of Monimichelle said he decided to sponsor the grassroots football tournament won by Ogboin United of Ogboinbiri as a way of getting the youths to say no to militancy and yes to sports.
He promised to make the tournament an annual event that can only get bigger and better.
Monimichelle boss who is a major stakeholder in the sports industry, said wants to use football to turn things around in the Southern Ijaw local government which is the heartbeat of militancy in the Niger Delta.
“I’ m out to change the narrative of Southern Ijaw being the hotbed of militancy. I’m confident sports, especially football can be used to redirect the energy of the youths. Rather than engage in militancy, I want them to be engaged in football. The kind of mammoth crowd that watched the matches, especially the final was a clear indication that with sports the youths of Apoi will become worthy ambassadors of Nigeria,” Egbe said.
He urged the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and the several oil companies operating in the Niger Delta region to queue into the sports agenda which he pointed out would be the game changer when it comes to youth’s restiveness and militancy.
“If the NDDC and the oil companies put just 10 percent of what they are using to fight militancy into sports and the provision of sporting infrastructure in Southern Ijaw there would be nothing like militancy anymore. I can put my money on this. We all know the power of football, especially in the Niger Delta region where soccer talents abound,” Egbe said.